Oracle releases first Portal product since acquisition

Oracle releases first Portal product since acquisition

Oracle has released the first Portal product since acquiring the maker of billing and revenue management software in July.

Oracle has shipped a new version of Portal's billing and revenue management software after winning a hard-fought battle to acquire Portal earlier this year.

Portal's software is designed to let communications and media companies bill and manage a range of services including wireline and wireless phones, broadband, cable, VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol), IP television, music and video. The application can handle both prepaid and postpaid services as well as different billing plans such as family and corporate calling plans.

Now known as Oracle Communications Billing and Revenue Management, Oracle made version 7.3 of the Portal software generally available Monday.

The focus of the new release is improved systems management capabilities including a real-time centralized operations management console and a performance optimization dashboard, according to Jennifer Kyriakakis, director of product marketing at Oracle. The new version has strong ties into Hewlett-Packard's OpenView systems management software and can also hook into consoles from other systems management software vendors, she said.

Acquiring Portal was a strategic move on Oracle's behalf. It was part of the vendor's endeavors to build up domain expertise across a number of vertical industries, said Bhaskar Gorti, a senior vice president at Oracle. Previously at Portal, he now heads Oracle's newly formed communications global business unit, which houses what was Portal. In creating the new business unit, Oracle intends to emulate the approach it took last year when it set up a new retail business unit based on its purchase of retail management software vendor Retek, he added.

Oracle first announced plans to purchase Portal for around US$220 million in April but had to renew its tender offer for the company twice in the wake of some Portal shareholder opposition to the deal. "I was a little surprised it took so long; we all were," Gorti said. "But we were very confident that we'd done the necessary due diligence and that the deal would get completed."

Oracle officially took over Portal in late June and completed the buy in early July having acquired more than 88 percent of Portal's outstanding stock. Oracle has since purchased the remaining stock and now owns 100 percent of Portal, Gorti said.

The database and applications vendor is working on integrating Portal's billing and revenue management into its ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications as well as tightening the existing ties between Portal and the CRM (customer relationship management) software Oracle acquired through the purchase of Siebel. Definitely on the agenda is a plan to integrate Portal's software with Oracle's General Ledger (GL) application, Gorti said. Portal already integrates with the GL of Oracle's main applications rival SAP.

Although Portal has focused on the telecommunications and media industries, Gorti confirmed that Oracle is looking to expand the use of the software to other vertical industries, though he declined to name which ones.

Oracle intends to provide more details on its planned road map for the Portal products and technology later this month at its OpenWorld user conference in San Francisco, Gorti said.

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